Ask Reihan Anything: Who Should Lead The GOP?

Reihan Salam, long-time friend of the Dish, our first kinda-staffer back in the day, and one of the brightest lights among young conservatives, is hard to put in a box:

He is a columnist for The Daily and lead writer of The Agenda blog at National Review, as well as a policy adviser at e21 and a contributing editor at National Affairs. He co-authored Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream with Ross Douthat. … He strongly supported the Iraq war but has since called it a disaster of “world-historical proportions.” He advocates policies that strengthen traditional family structure and has supported gay marriage for years. Salam has taken a strong interest in congestion pricing and the encouragement of denser living arrangements, the promotion of natural gas and nuclear power, reform of the U.S. tax code, and the fostering of a more competitive and diverse marketplace of educational providers.

His debate reaction is here. In a follow up, he compares Romney’s attack mode to Howard Dean’s in 2004:

During the 2004 campaign, Howard Dean blasted Republicans for what he called “the Bush tax hike.” Though your federal income-tax burden might have dipped, Dean argued, you were paying more in state and local taxes and for health care under Bush. So in effect, unless you were very wealthy, you didn’t see any real benefit from the tax cut — or so the argument went. …

Mitt Romney’s reference to Barack Obama’s “economy tax,” and his references to the soaring cost of health insurance and gasoline, were a belated but very shrewd invocation of this Deanian innovation. President Obama often makes references to the various refundable tax credits he created and expanded under the 2009 fiscal stimulus law, and the Obama administration has presided over a large increase in social transfers, as David Armor and Sonia Sousa recently documented in National Affairs. But if we accept the notion that the president is to some degree responsible for the weakness of the recovery — a premise that many of the president’s allies would not accept, it is worth keeping in mind — something like the Dean argument represents a potent counterargument.

Reihan is also a CNN contributor and you can find more of his writing over at Reuters Opinion.